Editor’s note: This commentary is in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine, as part of our “It’s Debatable” feature. In this regular column, we invite organizations and/or individuals to address a particular issue. Click here to subscribe to the magazine, available in both print and digital formats: www.adirondackexplorer.org/subscribe.
The question: What are the top priorities in the park for billions coming to NY in federal infrastructure money?
The $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill means $170 billion is slated for New York.
Working with the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, we asked 100 municipalities what they see as the top project in their communities. (Stay tuned for a full report.)
Sewer district in Brainardsville needs a $600,000 upgrade
The Town of Bellmont board is bent on updating the Brainardsville Sewer District. It serves 64 residences, a church, a privately owned community center, three small businesses, a U.S. Post Office and the town hall.
Cost estimates for the work exceed $600,000 and the board feels that the district taxpayers cannot afford what is needed to make these improvements.
We also are under pressure from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make repairs to this facility. The facility is adjacent to the best trout stream in Northern New York, the Chateaugay River, and the district’s filter bed’s effluent goes to this river.
It is comforting to know that the mandated frequent testing of the effluent shows it passes all required levels for approval. Yet, a new requirement calls for the effluent to be sanitized, preferably by the ultraviolet light system. This mandate is expensive.
—Town of Bellmont Supervisor H. Bruce Russell (Franklin County)
Clean water and access to broadband
Chief among our needs is funding for a downtown water treatment plant upgrade costing $4 million. If divided by 177 users, the cost is a near unmanageable burden. The second priority is a fiber optic broadband expansion throughout our entire town that would connect every home on the electric grid to the internet.
Additional funding needs include financial assistance for year-round rural ferry service between Essex and Vermont, improvements to the electrical grid which finds parts of Essex often in the dark because of our “end-of-the-line” location, improvements to our state, county and town roads to create safer pathways for cyclists and pedestrians (Essex is on a major route for those cyclists circumnavigating Lake Champlain) and EV charging stations for drivers who may spend some time supporting the local economy.
—Town of Essex Supervisor Ken Hughes (Essex County)
$4 million or more for the Harvey Bridge
Ohio’s Harvey Bridge spans the West Canada Creek and it has been repeatedly flagged for a variety of deficiencies. The town has done its best to maintain this bridge, but it’s far beyond rehabilitation. The cost to replace this deteriorated bridge will be over $4 million. Without a substantial amount of federal or state funding in the form of grants, this bridge will soon close.
The bridge remains open at a reduced weight limit of 10 tons. In addition to the cost and inconvenience to highway operations, school district busing, and private trucking and hauling, the reduced weight limit now affects fire department response times, since fire equipment can no longer use the bridge.
Historically, when the town has experienced severe flooding, as was the case on Halloween 2019, Harvey Bridge was the only lifeline to two thirds of the population of the town that is in southern Ohio. Without it, these people would have been completely cut off from any emergency service for days.
—Town of Ohio Supervisor Scott Bagetis (Herkimer County)
Getting drinking water to the residents of Blue Mountain Lake
One of our more pressing issues is a drinking water source for the residents of Blue Mountain Lake. Since the inception of a municipal water district, we have used the lake and an antiquated filtration plant. It is a small district with about 70 users.
The Department of Health has been pushing the town to switch to drilled wells for years, but with most of the land being state owned our opportunities are limited. With help from the Adirondack Experience museum, we started drilling exploratory wells about five years ago. We had very poor results and have expended about $140,000 dollars. We did receive a grant but due to the poor results we have had to change locations and our source of water.
We are now considering Blue Mountain Lake as our source, but with a modern filtration plant.
—Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Brian E. Wells (Hamilton County)
Photo: Town of Ohio officials list replacing the deteriorated Harvey Bridge over West Canada Creek atop its wish list for federal infrastructure funding. Photo provided